While politicians love to flaunt the red-beacon on their cars, M Veerappa Moily, union minister of petroleum and natural gas, for a change, decided to flaunt his commute by the country’s most advanced public transport system, Delhi Metro, on Wednesday.
Surrounded by media-persons and daily commuters, Moily took the metro from his residence to the Central Secretariat at 9.45am. He would take the metro thrice again on Wednesday: To go home for lunch, return to office and again at the end of the day.
He and his office staff would use public transport on every Wednesday to spread the message ‘save fuel’ in a country that spent $144.29 billion last fiscal on importing oil.
Oil is the single biggest item impacting the current account deficit, the difference between the inflows and outgo of foreign exchange.
While it was a fuel saving drive for the union minister, other commuters had a difficult time due to the heavy presence of security personnel and the media in the metro. There were about six security personnel accompanying Moily, while a group of about 20-25 journalists was present to report on the minister’s travel by the metro.
“The ministry staff alone would have saved some 600 litres of petrol or diesel today,” Moily said.
While two joint secretaries in the petroleum ministry rode bicycles to office, another 200-odd ministry staff used other public transport systems to reach office.
Last month, Moily had said that as part of a drive to save $5 billion in the oil import bill, he and all officials of his ministry would travel by public transport every Wednesday. Moily has also suggested to the Department of Personnel to introduce staggered office timings for government employees to decongest road traffic during peak hours. The minister has also asked the ministry of urban development to introduce Free Cycle Scheme in select cities.
“I have asked chief ministers, central ministries and PSU heads to use public transport one day of the week,” Moilly said.
A circular had been issued asking officials in the ministry of metroleum and natural gas as well as 14 public sector firms under the ministry to take public transport every Wednesday.
However, the decision to travel by public transport remains voluntary for all the government employees. “It’s a voluntary act. I cannot punish anyone for not taking the public transport but I want everyone from the highest ranking officers to the lowest, to take public transport every Wednesday,” Moily said.